Tonir: Not Something that the Copy Machine Needs More of

We met a nice Armenian family who wanted to have us to their village to learn how to make lavash, a special type of flatbread that is eaten with almost every meal here. They have a baking room attached to their small barn with an underground oven called a tonir. The tonir is similar to a tandoor which is used in Indian cooking. In any case, it was special to see how this traditional bread-making process worked. Our host was Rosa, the grandmother of the family who knows all the tricks of this trade. It was special to see how lavash is made, especially because it is a big part of Armenian identity and cherished as daily bread. Here are a few pictures to walk through how the tonir is used and how lavash is made. It was one of our last days in Armenia and was a great end to our time in this hospitable and beautiful country.

Forming the dough. Perhaps the first time they had ever seen a man try to do this. I was pretty clumsy with it.

Rosa preheats the oven using these bricks made of straw and manure

Fire in the hole

While it's heating up, the tonir is used to cook eggplants. The charred skins are removed afterward

The same method is used with peppers

It is a three woman operation, one to roll the dough, the next to put the bread in the oven, and the third to hook the bread to remove it

Here Rosa is passing the dough between her forearms to stretch and shape it

Then she stretches the dough onto this pillow looking thing

With the pillow on her arm she slaps the lavash to the wall of the oven

After a minute it is finished

Here is the finished product

After the bread is done, the meat goes into the tonir, hung on skewers

A pretty neat cooking method

We also picked a lot of fruit in their backyard. Apricots are just finishing so they insisted we take a lot


4 responses to “Tonir: Not Something that the Copy Machine Needs More of”

  1. Lowell Tjtntland says :

    Give us this day our daily bread. I would suggest you write a children’s book on how God does that in different parts of the world.

  2. DeNee hansen says :

    Amazing! It will be such a memory for you as you return home to continue your work. What a year you both have had. It sounds like Armenia was your favorite of all the countries.

  3. Coco in the Kitchen says :

    What a gorgeous post! Rosa is so sweet. I’ve never been to Armenia.
    Love this!

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